See My Work with Patty Lakinsmith for the ISGB/Bead and Button Convergence Exhibit

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Working with Brass

Well, one of my new year resolutions was to actually read some of the wonderful art books I've been collecting all these years! I started out with Practical Joining, by Tim McCreight. And lo and behold! I learned the solution to a problem I've had for a long time when working with brass.

If you work with brass then you've probably had the problem of winding up with a coppery color after soldering and pickeling. Now I have to tell you that I've spent hours trying to get rid of this annoying characteristic of brass, and never really new why I was having this problem. But I sanded and sanded until I could sand no more! Been there? Done that?

Well, in Tim's book (pardon the familiarity, Tim, but I feel like I know you so well) he identified the problem as the use of Sparex in my pickle. Most of us use it for our silver, and I never gave much thought to how it affected brass. In his book, he provided a formula using Hydrogen Peroxide that removes the pinkish color. Geez - it really pays to actually read these books!!!!

Anyway, make the pickle with Sparex, using hydrogen peroxide instead of water - about 1 tablespoon of Sparex to a cup of peroxide. Warm the piece and dip it into the solution. The rosey color will dissolve in 10 -20 minutes. He does warn, however, that if you leave the piece in the solution more than that, it will become etched and turn black. The black can be removed, the etching can't. Thankfully, I have a trusty old egg timer, and I did watch the piece carefully, so I didn't have this particular experience.

This really does work, and I have learned how to save myself precious hours of sanding by using this solution. Give it a try and let me know how it works for you!

Notice the pink around it? I finally oxidized it with a brass oxidizer to bring out the detail and cover some of the pink. I like the affect, but now I don't have to do that anymore!

That's all for now,


akaCINDERS said...

I always thought the pink was from copper residue in the pickle. Now I know better. Thanks so much for the tip. I love "Tim's" books to, but probably don't read enough either.

eve said...

Thanks for the tip on the brass, i have also had this problem, will have to look out for the book, oh and the cuff is gorgeous,x

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